From Speedy Simulations to Trustworthy AI: Undergraduates Take on Research Challenges at Illinois Tech for the Summer

A dozen students from across the United States have been chosen for the 10-week Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program at the Illinois Institute of Technology. The SURE program offers opportunities for conducting research in computational mathematics and data science. The students worked on one of the five different research topics.

One group worked with Fred Hickernell, Vice Provost of Research and Professor of Applied Mathematics at Illinois Tech, and Sou-Cheng Choi, Research Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics, on Speedy Simulations. Students used the QMCPy Python package, refined Monte Carlo simulations, and enhanced QMCPy’s functionality through new algorithms, parallel processing, and exploring novel applications.

Another group worked with Shuwang Li, Professor of Applied Mathematics, where students delved into crystal growth as a classic phase transition from liquid to solid via heat transfer. This project focused on the physics of snowflake formation, mathematical modeling, and hands-on scientific computing.

While others worked with Yubin Lu, a postdoctoral researcher, and Ming Zhong, Assistant Professor of Applied Mathematics on “Learning and Modeling Collective Behaviors,” where students were taught how to model collective behavior with machine learning and how to validate experimental data.

Binghui Wang and Ren Wang’s project addresses “Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence,” exploring machine-learning algorithm robustness against various attacks. The goal is to develop reliable AI through robustness and privacy considerations.

The final project titled “Virtual Tudor from CHAT GPT” was guided by Professor Lance Fortnow, Dean of the College of Computing. Its primary objective is to develop a virtual tutor utilizing CHAT GPT technology. This technology employs advanced language processing capabilities to interact with students in a way that simulates a tutor’s guidance. It will provide assistance to students struggling with understanding various math concepts.

A grant from the National Science Foundation’s Research Experiences for Undergraduates allowed these students from across the country to participate in this research project. It is a great way for undergraduates to get hands-on experience. Seeing how to write scientific papers, contribute to code bases, and work with others.

The students were excited to engage in experimental research. It was a great opportunity for these students to see if they would be interested in research. It also gave these students a great opportunity to see what they could do with different degrees such as math, physics, and computer science. These students will have hopefully loved their research experience and may even come back to the Illinois Institute of Technology to pursue an advanced degree.

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